Nebraska Legislative Series: Handicap Parking Law
Hands of Heartland’s mission is to ensure that adults with IDD have every opportunity to live fulfilling and engaging lives as part of the local community. A major component of that mission for our organization has been actively advocating for legislation that impacts the Bellevue and Omaha communities of individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities. In the early part of 2020, LB976 was introduced that would in part expand handicapped parking permits to be accessible to individuals with neurological impairments. In this article, we’ll discuss the scope of LB976, why it’s important to the community of adults with IDD, and where it currently stands.
Scope of LB976 and Its Impact on Current Handicap Parking Law
At this point in the state of Nebraska, individuals may request a handicapped parking permit if they have a visual or physical impairment and have obtained the requisite state permit for mobility impairment. With an estimated 144,000 handicapped parking spaces throughout the state, and only just over 47,000 handicapped parking permits in circulation, there is definitely room to expand the scope of who’s able to obtain this type of permit. Introduced by Sen. Kate Bolz, LB976 would expand the language of current law to also allow individuals with neurological impairments to also apply for a handicapped permit.
Why LB976 Is A Necessary Modification to Current Permit Laws
Children and adults with neurological impairments exhibit a wide spectrum of symptoms and conditions that could benefit from the ability to park closer to destinations when they and their family venture out into their communities.
Autism, dementia, and various other neurological impairments can manifest physically in a number of ways, but the ability to walk can often be negatively impacted. Limiting the distance such individuals have to walk can be helpful to their overall physical well-being and improve their experiences at their destination.
Depending on the destination, parking lots and street parking can be the source of significant auditory and visual stimulation, which can often be difficult for individuals with neurological impairments to deal with. Allowing these individuals or their caregivers to utilize handicapped spaces, we can help to minimize their exposure to sounds that might cause them to act out negatively or be unable to engage with others.
In cases where individuals with an intellectual developmental disability are unable to control their impulses or their responses to stimuli, parking lots and street parking can be extremely dangerous. Any sort of stimulation can cause any number of responses, and at any moment in leaving their vehicle. an individual with an IDD could decide to run off either trying to get away from a stimulus or pursue something that has caught their attention. Imagine if that were to happen on a busy street or in a parking lot with blind corners. Allowing access to the handcapped permits in this case could mean the difference between arriving safely and the individual being in a serious accident.
Improved Access to the Community
Allowing people with intellectual disabilities and neurological impairments access to handicapped spaces helps to mitigate, if not eliminate, the dangers and challenges discussed above. In doing so, the bill would reassure caregivers and family members alike that the drawbacks of venturing out can be minimized and those under their care will be able to fully engage with the community.
With No Action Taken, Hands of Heartland Remains Engaged
The Nebraska senate discussed the bill on February 25, 2020, but took no action on LB976 at the time. The bill is categorized as “Monitor” currently, and those advocating for its passage should continue to engage with their representatives. While we await action to be taken, Hands of Heartland will continue to support and advocate for the community of adults with intellectual developmental disabilities in Bellevue and throughout the state of Nebraska. To find out more about our mission and to inquire about our community service programs, reach out to our professional staff of caregivers today and we’ll be happy to share our story with you.